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In my mind, Tarsem Singh was one of the most cre­ative directors of my gen­er­ation. His 2006 film “The Fall” relies on unknown actors, rich colors, eclectic set­tings, and bril­liant writing. We’re talking about stories within stories on par with “Primer” and “The Prestige” and an “every shot a pearl” quality that makes the entire piece like an unin­ter­rupted music video.

When I heard there were dueling remakes of the classic fairy tale Snow White posed for release, I must admit, brand loyalty biased me in favor of Tarsem’s “Mirror, Mirror” over Rupert Sanders’ “Snow White and the Huntsman.” This time, Tarsem’s latest film would feature huge names like Julia Roberts and Sean Bean. He had a budget. He had a sto­ryline rife with pos­si­bil­ities for cre­ativity.

He blew it.

The dialog was one string of “believe in yourself” cliches, making any con­nection between the char­acters and audience utterly impos­sible. The film suf­fered from George Lucas’ Jar-Jar Binks syn­drome in “Phantom Menace:” not only was it not funny, but it thought it was funny. There were not one, not two – but five dis­tinct instances of various char­acters standing about in their underwear. In two of these scenes, the queen is trying to avoid being attracted to the underwear-garbed prince. It wasn’t funny the first time. The horse was not only dead, but he was lying in the ditch beside the road with flies and mangy buz­zards cir­cling and the hazmat crew already on call when they started beating the humorless carcass.

The trope-erific pre­dictability con­tinued blud­geoning the audience, scene after scene. One of the dwarves is attracted to Snow White, and, in no fewer than six reeking scenes, he mutters some line about getting together with her, before getting elbowed by another dwarf. At a wedding scene replete with huge hoop skirts, guess where the dwarves were hiding?

If this movie were a box of cereal, it would be as if Tarsem and Co. went down Pre­dictable Aisle and pulled tasteless boxes of Captain Trope and Frosted Motifs, repack­aging them in col­orful branding in order to spring them upon the unsus­pecting audience.

Worst of all, the overt preaching of what Hol­lywood seems to think the American con­sensus is only ended up demon­strating how utterly out of touch leftist Hol­lywood actually is. Its attempt at cul­tural rel­e­vance was limited to starving vil­lagers protesting taxes, led by a local mag­is­trate dressed in Tea Party-esque tricorn hat, a ref­erence to the 2008 bailouts “too small to fail.” There is repeated lam­basting of the queen’s use of taxes for “greed and vanity.” But the queen is hardly the ter­ri­fying figure of Disney’s classic. Instead of por­traying evil, the queen is stupid, incom­petent, and crazy. It’s as though her per­sonal inse­curity, not any form of moral cor­ruption, drives her to have Snow White killed.

The whole film is a hollow edifice without cre­ativity, artistry, or value.       

          tgaiser@hillsdale.edu